Tremonter.com

Well, I’m fin­ished putting togeth­er my Tremont spe­cif­ic weblog and bul­letin board. I was going to wait till May to tell every­one, but since I’m only left with the nev­erend­ing “adding of con­tent” phase, I thought I might as well get it over with. Now I’ve just got to get the word out around Tremont. The site is tremonter.com. Any and all sug­ges­tions are wel­come.

Science Fiction Book Club List: The Most Significant SF & Fantasy Books of the Last 50 Years, 1953–2002

The Most Sig­nif­i­cant SF & Fan­ta­sy Books of the Last 50 Years, 1953–2002

I final­ly man­aged to track down every book on the above list, many are/were unfor­tu­nate­ly out of print. But I did it. I’ve read them all. Mini-Reviews of all 50 are inside.

  1. The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. TolkienI’ve bab­bled on about this book and author far too much. Many peo­ple have no desire to read it because so many peo­ple go on and on about it. If any­thing, it belongs at the top of this list sim­ply because its suc­cess as a pub­li­ca­tion showed pub­lish­ers that mon­ey could, in fact, be made from sci­ence fic­tion and fan­ta­sy in book form. It wasn’t just for the pulps any­more.

    Rec­om­mend­ed oth­er read­ing: The Sil­mar­il­lion, The Hob­bit, Roveran­dom, On Fairy Sto­ries

  2. The Foun­da­tion Tril­o­gy, Isaac Asi­movNear­ly as impres­sive as LotR, The Foun­da­tion Series and Asi­mov him­self are respon­si­ble for adding a new lay­er of com­plex­i­ty to sci­ence fic­tion, the genre matured from juve­nile escapism in the pulps to com­plex polit­i­cal and his­tor­i­cal nar­ra­tives. The Foun­da­tion Series is a prime exam­ple of the effec­tive use of spec­u­la­tive fic­tion as a reflec­tion of our own soci­ety.

    Rec­om­mend­ed oth­er read­ing: Caves of Steel, I, Robot

  3. Dune, Frank Her­bert

    I read this book my fresh­man year of high school. I remem­ber not lik­ing it. I prob­a­bly missed some of the eco­nom­ic impor­tance among all the messianic/prophetic hul­lab­u­loo and sand­worm rid­ing and nukes mak­ing people’s eyes melt. I should prob­a­bly read it again, but I don’t par­tic­u­lar­ly have any desire to do so. Lots of peo­ple like it and it was made into an awful movie, so I guess it has some worth.
  4. Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Hein­lein

    One of the must-reads for the sex­u­al rev­o­lu­tion in the 1960s, Stranger in a Strange Land seems some­what sim­ple now that AIDS is every­where. Nev­er­the­less, the book is still quite pow­er­ful on many dif­fer­ent lev­els, nature vs. nuture, sex­u­al pro­cliv­i­ties, can­ni­bal taboos, you name it. Through­out the book the read­er is chal­lenged to eval­u­ate each aspect of cul­ture by see­ing it through strange but sim­i­lar eyes.

    Rec­om­mend­ed oth­er read­ing: Star­ship Troop­ers

  5. A Wiz­ard of Earth­sea, Ursu­la K. Le Guin

    Any­thing writ­ten by Ursu­la K. Le Guin is worth read­ing. A Wiz­ard of Earth­sea is a great, easy-to-read com­ing of age tale with a non-white pro­tag­o­nist [quite the dar­ing thing to do at the time] that del­i­cate­ly nav­i­gates the treach­er­ous waters of ado­les­cence and man­ages to impart a strong and healthy mes­sage with­out sound­ing parental.

    Rec­om­mend­ed oth­er read­ing: The Lathe of Heav­en, The Left Hand of Dark­ness, The Birth­day of the World and Oth­er Sto­ries

  6. Neu­ro­mancer, William Gib­son

    I’ve not read much cyber­punk, so I’ve not read much Gib­son. This was one of the first books I read when I start­ed the list. If I remem­ber cor­rect­ly, this tech­no-cap­i­tal­ist soci­ety is alot like orga­nized crime, and the main char­ac­ter is a sort of junkie drug-run­ner equiv­a­lent com­put­er hack­er, lots of cool tech and cool-like anti­hero­ism.
  7. Childhood’s End, Arthur C. Clarke

    Arthur C. Clarke is the go-to guy when it comes to writ­ing sto­ries that turn deep tragedy into bril­liant pos­si­bil­i­ty. Childhood’s End is prob­a­bly the best exam­ple of this. Tran­scen­dent human­i­ty is mixed, insep­a­ra­bly with the destruc­tion of almost every­thing we know as human. A com­pelling read.

    My longer reviewof Childhood’s End.
    Rec­om­mend­ed oth­er read­ing: Ren­dezvous with Rama, 2001: A Space Odyssey

  8. Do Androids Dream of Elec­tric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick

    Philip K. Dick isn’t the best writer, but his cre­ativ­i­ty is so full of mind-bend­ing psy­cho-hor­ror that his sto­ries over­come their words. This book was made into the amaz­ing Bladerun­ner [lots of Dick sto­ries have been made into movies, Minor­i­ty Report, Total Recall, Pay­check, Sec­ond Vari­ety] and prob­lems con­cern­ing cre­ation and epis­te­mol­o­gy are ulti­mate­ly deemed irrel­e­vant in this exis­ten­tial mas­ter­piece.

    Rec­om­mend­ed oth­er read­ing: Select­ed Sto­ries

  9. The Mists of Aval­on, Mar­i­on Zim­mer Bradley

    The only strict­ly fem­i­nist book on this list, I didn’t like it too much. Of course, I’m not real­ly the audi­ence, but I thought that the women, while puis­sant-willed, ulti­mate­ly became the things MZB was oppos­ing. To me they seemed bitchy and manip­u­la­tive, and while it could be argued that was their only way to have pow­er, it still rein­forces stereo­types. Nev­er­the­less, more books with female pro­tag­o­nists would be wel­come.
  10. Fahren­heit 451, Ray Brad­bury

    This book is stan­dard high school read­ing list fare, but its worth lasts unto adult­hood as well. The repres­sive soci­ety reminds me quite a bit of Vonnegut’s Har­ri­son Berg­eron but Bradbury’s tale ends on a slight­ly more hope­ful note. I quite like Brad­bury, his writ­ing style hear­kens back to sci­ence fiction’s found­ing fathers [Jules Verne, H.G.Wells] but he wres­tles with time­less con­cerns and adds anoth­er dimen­sion to his sto­rys by doing so. NB: 1984 [search­able online ver­sion!] didn’t make this list because it was pub­lished before 1953.

    Rec­om­mend­ed oth­er read­ing: The Mar­t­ian Chron­i­cles, Dan­de­lion Wine

  11. The Book of the New Sun, Gene Wolfe [1, 2]

    I hadn’t been too inter­est­ed in read­ing Gene Wolfe, for no real rea­son. I’d been miss­ing a lot. It seems like there are a lot of Catholics writ­ing good sci­ence fic­tion and fan­ta­sy, and Gene Wolfe fits that mold. The Book of the New Sun is a four-vol­ume meta­phys­i­cal mas­ter­piece that goes always in unex­pect­ed direc­tions and has a neb­u­lous sense of agency. One of the best books I read on this list.

    My longer review of The Book of the New Sun.

  12. A Can­ti­cle for Lei­bowitz, Wal­ter M. Miller, Jr.

    I think Ein­stein said that World War IV would be fought with sticks and stones, and the post-nuclear armaged­don world in which Wal­ter M. Miller puts us is a car wreck rub­ber­neck­ing read that seems to say fear and jeal­ousy will trump good sense as long as humans are humans. There are sev­er­al morals here, at least one for every­body who reads it.
  13. The Caves of Steel, Isaac Asi­mov

    Where I, Robot main­ly focused on the log­i­cal conun­dra of positron­ic robot­ics and the Three Laws of Robot­ics with a sec­ondary focus on inter­ac­tions with human emo­tion, The Caves of Steel offers more poignant sto­ries where humans attempt to cope with the dis­trust and fear asso­ci­at­ed with cre­at­ing some­thing supe­ri­or to them in all ways.

    Rec­om­mend­ed oth­er read­ing: The Foun­da­tion Tril­o­gy, I, Robot

  14. Chil­dren of the Atom, Wilmar Shi­ras

    This book reads some­what like any oth­er mid-cen­tu­ry child­hood adven­ture book. Except all the kids in this one are super­ge­nius­es and were osten­si­bly the inspi­ra­tion for the X-Men. Dur­ing the Atom­ic Age radioac­tive acci­dents didn’t always end hor­ri­bly. A nice read, if a bit bland at times.

    My longer review of Chil­dren of the Atom.

  15. Cities in Flight, James Blish

    This thick book is more a com­bined series of novel­las than any­thing else. Ear­ly on it offers alter­na­tives to the sci­en­tif­ic method but as time pass­es, the mas­tery of anti-gravitic spin­dizzies turn human­i­ty into the pro­tec­tors of the galaxy, even­tu­al­ly even unto sac­ri­fic­ing them­selves as new gods. A Mag­num Opus indeed.
  16. The Colour of Mag­ic, Ter­ry Pratch­ett

    Final­ly, a bit of humor­ous fan­ta­sy! Ter­ry Pratch­ett takes the typ­i­cal absur­di­ties of life, mix­es in heavy dos­es of humor and enlight­en­ing satire and pours this sauce over inter­est­ing char­ac­ters of myr­i­ad vari­eties. The result: Tasty treats of books that enter­tain and illu­mi­nate with­out and sense of heavy­hand­ed­ness. There is always some­thing to laugh about.
  17. Dan­ger­ous Visions, edit­ed by Har­lan Elli­son

    One of the most ambi­tious antholo­gies of all time, this book con­tains pow­er­ful sto­ry after pow­er­ful sto­ry, on all kinds of bizarre and chal­leng­ing top­ics. 35 years lat­er the sto­ries might not seem quite so dan­ger­ous, but the writ­ing and con­tent still sur­prise and affect. Elli­son intro­duces each author and each author has a bit of a foot­note about the sto­ry at the end of each. A must read.
  18. Death­bird Sto­ries, Har­lan Elli­son

    While Dan­ger­ous Visions was a mas­ter­piece, this col­lec­tion of short sto­ries by Elli­son didn’t do much for me. Each is con­cerned with humanity’s new gods, dark gods for the most part. I didn’t enjoy this book near­ly as much as I enjoyed Ellison’s Strange Wine [and I only enjoyed half of that]. I think Elli­son is just too brash for my taste.

    My longer reviewof Death­bird Sto­ries.
    Rec­om­mend­ed oth­er read­ing: Strange Wine

  19. The Demol­ished Man, Alfred Bester

    This is a thriller, a jour­ney into the pur­ga­to­ry of the mind and a thought­ful explo­ration of what telepa­thy might be capa­ble of. A man with every­thing deter­mines to com­mit mur­der and get away with it. If he does not suc­ceed he will be Demol­ished. That is, have his per­son­al­i­ty utter­ly shat­tered. Will he suc­ceed? Read the book to find out!

    Rec­om­mend­ed oth­er read­ing: The Stars My Des­ti­na­tion

  20. Dhal­gren, Samuel R. Delany

    In post­mod­ern sci­ence fic­tion with a han­ker­ing toward shock and awe through sex­u­al pro­cliv­i­ties, dis­cus­sions on the nature of art in a world of warp­ing real­i­ties, in a city where build­ings burn and are not con­sumed, and pro­ject­ed images seem more real that the gangs who con­trol them, who bet­ter to guide you through this than a filthy amne­si­ac mad­man who writes poet­ry in the cor­ners of a found note­book?

    An excerpt from my favorite part of Dhal­gren.

  21. Drag­on­flight, Anne McCaf­frey

    Anne McCaf­frey has pro­duced near­ly innu­mer­able nov­els about Pern. Drag­on­flight is the first one, and the only one I’ve read. As books go this one has some cool time and space warp­ing drag­ons an inter­est­ing exam­ple of cul­tur­al evo­lu­tion and a pret­ty believ­able female pro­tag­o­nist. It def­i­nite­ly blurs the lines between sci­ence fic­tion and fan­ta­sy and is def­i­nite­ly orig­i­nal in idea, if not exact­ly in style.
  22. Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card

    This is more mil­i­tary sci­ence fic­tion, but when it comes to think­ing around things Orson Scott Card man­ages time and again in this book. Ender Wig­gin, a genet­i­cal­ly bred boy genius is trained to exhaus­tion in order to save humankind from an incom­ing alien inva­sion and cer­tain anni­hi­la­tion. Anoth­er clas­sic must read.
  23. The First Chron­i­cles of Thomas Covenant the Unbe­liev­er, Stephen R. Don­ald­son [1, 2, 3]

    When it comes to atyp­i­cal pro­tag­o­nists, the lep­rous and cow­ard­ly Thomas Covenant takes the cake. While this book could have dealt quite stun­ning­ly with the nature of mad­ness and psy­chic trau­ma, it takes a dif­fer­ent path and spends three books wal­low­ing in its own mis­tery. Meh.

    My longer review of The First Chron­i­cles of Thomas Covenant the Unbe­liev­er.

  24. The For­ev­er War, Joe Halde­man

    In a sense this is more mil­i­tary sci­ence fic­tion, but it is also hard sci-fi, tem­po­ral rel­a­tiv­i­ty is the prime mover and cause of more men­tal anguish [kind of a trend here isn’t there? I won­der if it has to do with the time peri­od these books were writ­ten in…] as a space sol­dier spends sev­er­al years sub­jec­tive time fight­ing in dif­fer­ent parts of space, while thou­sands of years pass objec­tive­ly. Halde­man is excel­lent.

    Rec­om­mend­ed oth­er read­ing: All My Sins Remem­bered

  25. Gate­way, Fred­erik Pohl

    Space trav­el, explo­ration and mis­un­der­stood alien tech are the heart­wood of this begin­ning to Pohl’s tales of human­i­ty and the Heechee. This is a dan­ger-filled adven­ture tale like a walk through dark and strange wood­land.
  26. Har­ry Pot­ter and the Sorceror’s Stone, J.K. Rowl­ing

    Despite its almost clichéd sta­tus in pop­u­lar cul­ture, the first book in the Har­ry Pot­ter series was an unex­pect­ed delight for folks of all ages. Just enough humor, just the right mix of famil­iar­i­ty and strange­ness and a very British feel to it make this book a quick and enjoy­able read.
  27. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Dou­glas Adams

    Every­body should read the Hitchhiker’s Guide. Don’t Pan­ic, it is more com­e­dy than sci­ence fic­tion, so even if you typ­i­cal­ly asso­ciate sci-fi with Vogon poet­ry this book is fun­ny enough for you to for­give it for being out of this world.

    Rec­om­mend­ed oth­er read­ing: The Ulti­mate Hitchhiker’s Guide

  28. I Am Leg­end, Richard Math­e­son

    Richard Math­e­son wrote lots of stuff for The Twi­light Zone, so if you expect I Am Leg­end to be like that rockin’ series you’re both right and wrong. This book was made into a few movies The Omega Man is the one I’ve seen. Look, it is about the last man on earth when every­one else is a vam­pire. A great book.
  29. Inter­view with the Vam­pire, Anne Rice

    Most folks have prob­a­bly seen the movie. This is one of the rare cas­es where I like the movie and the book equal­ly. Anne Rice does an excel­lent job show­ing us what life is like when you are a regret­ful hedo­nis­tic vam­pire.
  30. The Left Hand of Dark­ness, Ursu­la K. Le Guin

    The only rea­son I can think of that this book is so far down on the list is that Mrs. Le Guin already has a book in the top five. She seems to chan­nel her anthro­pol­o­gist father Al Kroe­ber in this par­tic­i­pant-observ­er tale of polit­i­cal intrigue in a land where the androg­y­ne inhab­i­tants can take on either male or female sex­u­al char­ac­ter­is­tics depend­ing on their envi­ron­ment. Like I said, any­thing she writes is worth a read.

    Rec­om­mend­ed oth­er read­ing: Wiz­ard of Earth­sea, The Birth­day of the World and Oth­er Sto­ries

  31. Lit­tle, Big, John Crow­ley

    One of the big sur­pris­es on this list is Lit­tle, Big. It is an ethe­re­al, mean­der­ing, mys­te­ri­ous and quite potent med­i­ta­tion on rela­tions between our world and Faery. You can almost pick it up at any place and start read­ing with­out miss­ing much. A book to read more than once, for sure.
  32. Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny

    On a plan­et where an immor­tal oli­garchy pre­tends to be the Hin­du Pan­theon, one god, the Lord of Light is con­stant­ly offed and reborn to oppose them. Should we be sur­prised that he is the Bud­dha? Not real­ly. I don’t think I quite got this book. It was weird. I think I missed the point.
  33. The Man in the High Cas­tle, Philip K. Dick

    The weak­est thing I’ve read by Dick, lots of peo­ple say this is his finest work. It is revi­sion­ist his­to­ry as only sci-fi can do it. What if Japan and Ger­many had won World War II? That is a pret­ty cool idea but Phil spends too much time dick­ing around in mun­dane events and wor­ries for my taste.

    My longer review of The Man in the High Cas­tle.
    Rec­om­mend­ed oth­er read­ing: Do Androids Dream of Elec­tric Sheep?, Select­ed Sto­ries

  34. Mis­sion of Grav­i­ty, Hal Clement

    This is hard sci­ence fic­tion with a main char­ac­ter who is basi­cal­ly a big ole cen­tipede. It is also a sea adven­ture, albeit on an ovoid plan­et with the strangest grav­i­ty imag­in­able. All the char­ac­ters are out for their own best inter­ests which makes for some inter­est­ing hag­gling and inter­ac­tion.
  35. More Than Human, Theodore Stur­geon

    I real­ly like Theodore Stur­geon. His sto­ries are decep­tive­ly sim­ple. He hints at things that you only real­ize after you put the book down. More than Human is a sto­ry about half-wits and half-humans becom­ing greater than the sum of their parts, ulti­mate­ly exceed­ing their human­i­ty, despite or per­haps because of their inno­cence.

    Rec­om­mend­ed oth­er read­ing: The Com­plete Sto­ries of Theodore Stur­geon [10 vol­umes]

  36. The Redis­cov­ery of Man, Cord­wain­er Smith

    This book should be much high­er on the list. It is a col­lec­tion of all of Cord­wain­er Smith’s short sto­ries. Mr. Smith is respon­si­ble for start­ing the sci­ence fic­tion careers of more than a few peo­ple on this list and his 30,000 year chron­i­cle of humanity’s con­stant strug­gle toward even it doesn’t know what is orig­i­nal from the first page to the last one. A bit more from me on Cord­wain­er Smith and a review of Norstril­ia.

    Rec­om­mend­ed oth­er read­ing: Norstril­ia

  37. On the Beach, Nevil Shute

    This book was per­haps the most sur­pris­ing one that I read on this list. I think it should be much high­er. It prob­a­bly isn’t only because it isn’t quite as sci­ence fic­tiony as the oth­ers. It is a heartwrench­ing­ly bru­tal con­tem­po­rary mid-20th cen­tu­ry sto­ry of post-nuclear anni­hi­la­tion in Aus­tralia. Aus­tralia hasn’t been hit, but the jet stream is slow­ly bring­ing the radi­a­tion to the con­ti­nent. Every­one knows they are under a death sen­tence. It is an amaz­ing and thought-pro­vok­ing anti-war sto­ry that is quite effec­tive at deeply per­son­al lev­el. I need to scrounge up one of the movies [1, 2].
  38. Ren­dezvous with Rama, Arthur C. Clarke

    This is more space explo­ration involv­ing alien tech­nol­o­gy, only this time the humans are insidea mys­te­ri­ous and vast alien craft that con­founds almost all of their attempts to explore it. How do you explore the inside of a sphere? of a cylin­der?

    Rec­om­mend­ed oth­er read­ing: Childhood’s End, 2001: A Space Odyssey

  39. Ring­world, Lar­ry Niv­en

    To quote Niv­en:

    I myself have dreamed up an inter­me­di­ate step between Dyson Spheres and plan­ets. Build a ring nine­ty three mil­lion miles in radius—one Earth orbit—which would make it six hun­dred mil­lion miles long. If we make it a mil­lion mies wide, we get a thick­ness of about a thou­sand meters. The Ring­world would thus be much stur­dier than a Dyson sphere.

    There are oth­er advan­tages. We can spin it for grav­i­ty. A rota­tion on its axis of sev­en hun­dred sev­en­ty miles per sec­ond would give the Ring­world one grav­i­ty out­ward. We wouldn’t even have to have a roof over it. Put walls a thou­sand miles high at each rim, aim it at the sun, and very lit­tle air will leak over the edges.

    The thing is roomy enough: three mil­lion times the area of the Earth. It will be some time before any­one com­plains of the crowd­ing.

  40. Rogue Moon, Algis Budrys

    A sto­ry of manip­u­la­tion on mul­ti­ple lev­els and in mul­ti­ple places, Rogue Moon is the sto­ry of an explor­er who must, by tri­al and error, find his way through an alien con­struct. The only prob­lem is, each time he errors, he dies, and the psy­cho­log­i­cal effects of this are just as unknown and incal­cu­la­ble.
  41. The Sil­mar­il­lion, J.R.R. Tolkien

    The Sil­mar­il­lion is my favorite work of Tolkien’s. It is grand mythopo­et­ic sub­cre­ation, with incred­i­bly rich and some­what archa­ic lan­guage. It is easy to see why this was his life’s work and it would be quite inter­est­ing to see what it would have even­tu­al­ly become had he not died before com­plet­ing it.

    Rec­om­mend­ed oth­er read­ing: The Lord of the Rings, The Hob­bit, Roveran­dom, On Fairy Sto­ries

  42. Slaugh­ter­house-5, Kurt Von­negut

    Even peo­ple who hate sci­ence fic­tion seem to like Von­negut. Deeply satir­i­cal and simul­ta­ne­ous­ly sen­ti­men­tal time-trav­el must have atavis­tic appeal to most humans. As anti-war books go, this one is prob­a­bly one of the top five.

    Rec­om­mend­ed oth­er read­ing: Cat’s Cra­dle, Wel­come to the Mon­key House

  43. Snow Crash, Neal Stephen­son

    Snow Crash is a cyber­punk nov­el filled with arche­typ­al char­ac­ters with delib­er­ate­ly odd lives. Con­tem­po­rary life is extrap­o­lat­ed into a future where sexy 16 year old sk8r grrls wear nar­cot­ic vagi­na den­ta­ta, piz­za deliv­ery guys who live in U-Stor-Its are gods of the inter­nets, and large Aleu­tians with glass razors kill peo­ple like noth­ing. It was a good read, but a bit over the top.
  44. Stand on Zanz­ibar, John Brun­ner

    This is a deeply per­son­al book, you can real­ly feel John Brunner’s soul being poured into it. Con­cerned with over­pop­u­la­tion, first world com­pla­cen­cy, vic­ar­i­ous life through tele­vi­sion, and a chron­ic andacute exis­ten­tial anomie, it ulti­mate­ly admits its love for all of us, despite our imper­fec­tions.

    My longer review of Stand on Zanz­ibar.

  45. The Stars My Des­ti­na­tion, Alfred Bester

    Alfred Bester has two books on this list for a rea­son, his sci­ence fic­tion is unlike any­thing you’ll ever read. He sort of prog­nos­ti­cates the cyber­punk genre, espe­cial­ly in this work, where a thug named Gul­ly Foyle jaunts around seek­ing revenge for being aban­doned in a derelict space­craft.

    Rec­om­mend­ed oth­er read­ing: The Demol­ished Man

  46. Star­ship Troop­ers, Robert A. Hein­lein

    I’ve read this book prob­a­bly eight or nine times since I first nabbed it on this lit­tle quest of mine. It is said to be a rather con­ser­v­a­tive out­look on a mil­i­tary soci­ety, but I think it mix­es just the right amount of piz­zazz with quite thought-pro­vok­ing civics lessons to come up with the best use of nation­al­ism pos­si­ble. This nov­el is approx­i­mate­ly infi­nite­ly bet­ter than the bat­shit crazy movie adap­ta­tion.

    Rec­om­mend­ed oth­er read­ing: Stranger in a Strange Land

  47. Storm­bringer, Michael Moor­cock

    This dark fan­ta­sy is dri­ven by a pro­tag­o­nist who is inher­ent­ly evil, an alien being who is moti­vat­ed and wracked by shad­owy emo­tions. It is vio­lent, escha­to­log­i­cal, and quite short. I didn’t par­tic­u­lar­ly enjoy this book because Moor­cock is so effec­tive at cre­at­ing twist­ed behav­ior, strange emo­tion and alien­ation that I had noth­ing to hold on to. Just because I didn’t enjoy it doesn’t mean it sucked though. Moor­cock wrote many oth­er books in the Storm­bringer series.
  48. The Sword of Shan­nara, Ter­ry Brooks

    This book should not be on the list. It is ter­ri­ble. The only book I didn’t fin­ish on this list. It is so unabashed­ly a cheap and lame and crum­my Tolkien rip-off that I got 200 pages in, real­ized that plot point for plot point the nov­el was copy­ing Tolkien and stopped read­ing. A large num­ber of oth­er sci­ence fic­tion and fan­ta­sy books could replace this one. I think it only made it because of its pop­u­lar­i­ty. Even Ter­ry Good­kind would have been a bet­ter choice.
  49. Timescape, Gre­go­ry Ben­ford

    Hard sci­ence fic­tion with deeply per­son­al char­ac­ters, this nov­el deals with the inher­ent dan­gers of time trav­el, but only time trav­el com­mu­ni­ca­tion, not phys­i­cal time trav­el. There is a lot of physics in this book, but Ben­ford makes it rel­a­tive­ly easy to under­stand. The world is being destroyed due to pol­lu­tion and a few sci­en­tists are try­ing to speak to the past in order to change the future. The effi­ca­cy and after effects of this are some­what ambigu­ous, and Ben­ford, like a good sci­en­tist, lays out the prob­lem as he sees it, and lets the read­er decide.
  50. To Your Scat­tered Bod­ies Go, Philip José Farmer

    Every­one who is dead wakes up on this River­world. No one knows why, or how. The main char­ac­ter seeks to find out why and how. He ends up get­ting killed, but then dis­cov­ers that he just wakes up the next day some­where else on the riv­er. So, play­ing the odds, he los­es any restraint on keep­ing him­self intact and hops from death to death hop­ing even­tu­al­ly he’ll come to the end of the riv­er. Along the way he runs into all kinds of famous peo­ple, Nazis, Nean­derthals, you name it. A real­ly fun book.

Ten Books I rec­om­mend you read from this list [in no par­tic­u­lar order]:

  • The Redis­cov­ery of Man
  • Dan­ger­ous Visions
  • The Sil­mar­il­lion
  • Lit­tle, Big
  • The Foun­da­tion Tril­o­gy
  • Star­ship Troop­ers
  • On the Beach
  • The Left Hand of Dark­ness
  • Dhal­gren
  • The Book of the New Sun

Fast Choice Fish and Cheese Sandwich

1388_fc_fishcheese.jpg

Today I had my sec­ond item from the vendy down­stairs. I had the Fast Choice Fish and Cheese Sand­wich by Pierre Foods, again. For $1.65 I received 5.75 ounces of…some­thing…with the con­sis­ten­cy and taste of a dirty, wet mit­ten.

This item is appar­ent­ly slight­ly bet­ter for you than Biz AZ Bub­ba Twins because the nutri­tion infor­ma­tion is actu­al­ly post­ed on their web­site. Once again, it was not avail­able from the pack­ag­ing itself. 440 calo­ries, 16g of fat, 45mg of cho­les­terol, 820mg of sodi­um, 54g of carbs and [sur­pris­ing­ly] 18g of pro­tein. Wow that is bad for you.

The main ingre­di­ent, in bold type is Ful­ly Cooked Bread­ed Alaskan Pol­lock. I think they think if they put it in bold type we’ll be more like­ly to believe that there real­ly is fish in this sand­wich. The rest of the ingre­di­ents appear to be, word for word, an exact copy of the EPA’s Haz­ardous Mate­ri­als list.

To cook this beast you open the bag and put it in the microwave for…45 sec­onds. I cooked mine for 12 min­utes just to be safe. It came out of the microwave sus­pi­cious­ly odor­less. Putting my nose close to the bag I had a faint whiff of cheap bread­ing, but that is all. It steamed and squished in my hand like a fresh dia­per from a two-year old. I showed it to my friend Patrick, who imme­di­ate­ly made the sign ward­ing him­self from the evil eye and stum­bled out of his cube, wet­ting him­self.

So I final­ly took a bite, anx­ious to see if the bag’s claim of “Improved Taste” would over­come the dis­turb­ing lack of odor. The sand­wich was utter­ly taste­less. I assume “improved taste” means it doesn’t taste like buttchunks any­more. No taste is an improve­ment. In fact, the only thing tasty on the sand­wich was the ketchup I put on it. The “cheese” dis­ap­peared dur­ing the microwav­ing process. I can only imag­ine that it was ashamed to be on such a sand­wich and ascend­ed to a high­er plane.

Grade: Slight­ly gross­er than Sal­is­bury steak.

Mowing the Lawn

First you’ve got the prime
the engine, one, two,
three—and if you’ve got
the right idea,
and pull that cord
so hard your shoul­der
jolts, you’ll get its atten­tion.
That blade’ll turn and growl.
It is best to mow the lawn
in a rec­tan­gu­lar spi­ral,
four cor­ners shark­ing in
on that last king dan­de­lion.
Cir­cum­scribe trees twice;
let them know you know they’re wait­ing
for any excuse
to drop sticks and leaves.
Become one with the lawn­mow­er,
take its chuff and cough
inside of you.
If you run out
of gas, take a break, have
some lemon­ade, stomp on the
mole­hills. Begin again.
Mow your lawn until it
is a hock­ey puck
steak, until the trees are
limb­less chil­dren and king
dan­de­lion abdi­cates the throne.
Stop. Put the mow­er away,
met­al pant­i­ng like a weimaran­er
gone hart-hunt­ing.
Wash the dust from your throat
with some sour lemon­ade
and enjoy your just desert.